Flossing with Braces: How to Floss When you Have Braces?

Dr. Hoss Abar

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Cleaning and flossing your teeth while wearing braces is critical for your smile and health.  

Flossing, or cleaning between teeth with wax-covered thread, scrapes the difficult-to-reach areas that the brush misses, especially when brackets and wires are in the way. Floss between each tooth once a day. You can also use an interproximal brush to clean around the brackets and under the wires of your braces.   

Flossing is essential, even if it takes longer with braces. There are many flossing techniques. No matter which method you use, flossing regularly is critical to preventing periodontal disease and tooth decay, while braces correct your misaligned teeth for a more confident smile.

Why is flossing important?   

You may be wondering how a simple piece of floss can significantly affect your oral health. However, you'll be astonished at how beneficial flossing may be. No toothbrush, no matter how diligently you brush your teeth, can get into all the nooks and crannies like floss.  

Plaque is formed when bacteria generate acids. Wearing braces increases the spaces where food particles can become stuck, attracting bacteria. Brushing and flossing effectively is an excellent technique to remove as much bacteria as possible from teeth.  

Brush at least twice a day and floss once a day. Moreover, brushing and flossing remove food and bacteria that can cause stains and cavities. It also aids in the prevention of gingivitis and other oral health issues that can arise later in life.  

Traditional flossing   

This tried-and-true flossing technique is the best way to clear food and plaque from between the teeth, but it can be difficult for people who wear braces. It takes time to wrap the floss around the brackets and wire.  

If you try this procedure, allow yourself 10 to 15 minutes to floss your teeth. The only tool required is waxed floss. Unwaxed floss tends to rip and become entangled in the metal brackets.  

The following are the steps you can follow to floss:   

  • Cut a piece of floss 18 to 24 inches long.  
  • Thread the floss between your teeth and through the main wire. It's an excellent option to do this in front of a mirror to check that the thread is moving in the appropriate direction.  
  • To make handling easier, wrap the floss ends over your index fingers.  
  • Slide the floss gently between the two teeth, then up and down the sides of both teeth.
Flossing with Braces


A Waterpik is a one-of-a-kind dental gadget that cleans between teeth and along the gumline with a continuous stream of water. Moreover, the stream of water is so effective at cleansing your mouth you only need three to five minutes to floss with this dental device. Furthermore, a water flosser typically costs around $50, though some types are more expensive.   

Waterpiks with orthodontia tips are available from some manufacturers. These tapered tips clean more readily around braces and between teeth than regular tips.   

How to Use a Waterpik to Floss   

  • Fill the water reservoir in the machine. You can add mouthwash to the water to make it antimicrobial.   
  • Use the water flosser's tapered tip. To ensure that the flosser is working correctly and that the water pressure is sufficient for you, press to send water through it.   
  • Lean over the sink and insert the flosser tip into your mouth.   
  • Turn on the water flosser. While flossing, allow the water to flow from your mouth. It is essential to keep water from splashing out of your mouth by closing your lips.   
  • The water stream should be moved along the gumline and between each tooth.  

Floss threader   

You can speed up traditional flossing with a floss threader, a tiny plastic gadget.   

Using a floss threader will make your dental care time short. Floss threaders are easily available in the oral care department of supermarkets and pharmacies. Your orthodontist may also have sample threaders that you can try before purchasing a whole bag.   

  • First, pull an 18- to 24-inch piece of waxed floss through the floss threader's eye.   
  • Then, insert the plastic needle's point under the wire of your braces. Pull the floss gently through the wire. With one hand, hold the floss threader.   
  • It would be easy if you wrapped the floss around your index fingers for better control of the fine thread.   
  • Lastly, gently slide the floss between the two teeth and up and down the sides of both teeth.  

Dental tape   

Traditional flossing might be painful for some people, especially those who do not floss regularly before wearing braces. When you initially start flossing, your gums may bleed and feel inflamed. The gums will get healthier with time, and flossing may no longer be necessary.   

If your gums are sensitive, try flossing using dental tape. Use dental tape in the same way you would floss. The feel of this ultrathin floss is soft and spongy. It's thinner than regular floss and wider than ribbon. This makes it easier to slip between teeth.  

Interdental brushes  

Interdental brushes contain short bristles that easily remove food and debris between teeth. Brush the brush gently back and forth between the teeth to dislodge any food particles. You should only use Interdental brushes with water, not toothpaste, which can be overly abrasive.  

They come in various widths to accommodate the size of the gaps between your teeth and last between three days and three weeks before needing to be replaced.  

There is some evidence that interdental brushes are less aggressive on the gums than floss since the brushes do not cut into the gums as floss does. Brush bristles may also be more effective than dental floss in eliminating microorganisms from the interdental space.  

Water flosser   

Water flossers are also helpful in eliminating food from around brackets and wires, but they aren't required because your toothbrush and floss will suffice.  

A water flosser is helpful for persons who dislike using floss because it is difficult or tiresome. Water flossers are easier to maneuver and use than floss, especially for persons with arthritis in their hands.  

So, the decision is yours. Choose the flossing tool that you will use every day.  

Flossing with braces: General tips and tricks   

These basic practices and regular flossing will help you keep your pearly whites sparkling bright.  

  • Schedule routine cleanings: Cleanings by a dental hygienist are recommended when wearing braces. They can help prevent staining by deep cleaning around the brackets and hardware. Consider arranging a three-month cleaning.   
  • Avoid whitening toothpaste: While you may believe that maintaining your teeth brilliant white is a good idea, brushing with whitening toothpaste may cause problems in the future. Because whitening chemicals cannot penetrate beneath the brackets, just the exposed surfaces of your teeth will be whitened. After removing the brackets, you may notice off-white spots on each tooth.   
  • Use an electric toothbrush: Electric toothbrushes clean better than manual brushes to achieve more significant results with less effort. Electric toothbrushes cost $100 or more, but you can get a discount or voucher from your dentist.  


Braces can help you build a confident smile. They can also reduce your risk of acquiring future oral health problems. However, taking care of your teeth while wearing braces is crucial for various reasons. Brushing and flossing help remove food and germs that cause stains and cavities. They can also assist in preventing gingivitis and other oral health problems later in life.  

It takes time to care for your teeth while wearing braces, but you'll be glad at what you did after the braces are off and your smile is attractive and healthy.

Contact your Pinole dentist, Dr. Hoss Abar, DDS, MSD, at Abar Orthodontics to learn how to floss when you have braces.


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*This media/content or any other on this website does not prescribe, recommend, or prevent any treatment or procedure. Therefore, we highly recommend that you get the advice of a qualified dentist or other medical practitioners regarding your specific dental condition*

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